Sandhill Cranes in Franklin Township
The anticipation begins in early November as birders and naturalists of many disciplines await the annual appearance of the Sandhill Cranes in Franklin Township.
There is no guarantee that the cranes will be in view when one visits the area, certainly adding to their allure. A favored location for the cranes and an easy access for birders are the agricultural fields along Randolph Road, Franklin Township. Soybeans were planted there last year. Sandhill Cranes do not give a hoot for soybeans. This made finding the cranes challenging.
However, in 2016 corn was again grown at Randolph Road and on November 17, Jeff Ellerbusch found four returning cranes there – the tenth successive known year that they have wintered in this area.
On November 21, David Bernstein saw an amazing 15 Sandhill Cranes in two flocks fly northwest of the canal across Weston Canal Road where they are difficult, if not impossible, to see.
Today, Nov. 24, Mike Yuan found six of the Sandhill Cranes at another favored and accessible location in the cornfields near the intersection of Mettlers and Weston Roads. During the past ten years, Sandhill Cranes have been seen at various cornfields in Franklin Township and neighboring Hillsborough Township. They are not guaranteed to be seen, but are in the area…somewhere.
A brief walk along the west shore of Timberbrook Lake in Rockaway Twp., produced a Winter Wren, an immature Bald Eagle, and a Common Raven occasionally chasing American Crows. Upon exiting the trail, seven (7!) ATVs and eleven (11!) dirt bikes led by an adult in an ATV (at least it was a man of approximately middle age. Perhaps adult is the wrong description) started cruising down the trail. This trail leads to the Four Birds Trail and other paths that course through Farny State Park and the Newark Watershed.
Cackling Geese reports from Somerset County are coming in as wintering Canada Geese flocks arrive en masse into the county.
This eBird reviewer appreciates photos, if possible, or, lacking photos, definitive descriptions of Cackling Geese. Comments such as, “small goose with small bill” do not work. Equally inconclusive are flight identifications. Seeing a small goose with a flock of Canada Geese does not warrant identifying it as a Cackling Goose. Many odd geese are around and unless a 100% positive identification can be documented, listing a bird as goose sp. is perfectly acceptable and better science as well.
Please be precise and treat eBird in a conscientious, professional manner rather than as a casual bird listing tool.
Proving the worth of carrying a camera and having golden ears, Jeff Ellerbusch caught the following Lapland Longspur in a flight photograph and in sound by hearing its rattle call in Bridgewater this past week.
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